Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol or delta-8 is one of the cannabinoids found in Cannabis sativa. It’s similar to delta-9 THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis but with less psychoactive effects. Because of this, its popularity is on the rise. But does it lessen the risk? Does this mean it has no adverse effect compared to delta-9 THC?
The cannabis plant naturally produces over 100 cannabinoids and delta-8 is one of them. Some of them have high concentrations of THC, while some don’t. Delta-8 and delta-9 are both forms of THC. But when people refer to THC, they usually mean delta-9.
Delta-8 is not found in significant amounts in the cannabis plant. That is why it is usually manufactured from hemp-derived cannabidiol or CBD.
How does it work?
Just like the other known cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, delta-8 works by binding and attaching itself to the endocannabinoid receptors. These receptors are mainly found in the part of the brain that controls mood, appetite, sleep, and others. This process causes the mind-altering effects of delta-8 in humans.
Delta-8 THC is available in a variety of products. These include edibles like gummies and capsules, dried plant products, and smoking and vaping products. The amount of delta-8 THC might also vary significantly. Some products might also contain contaminants. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.
Delta-8 is becoming popular with cannabis users due to its similarities with delta-9 THC. Their benefits include feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and potential pain relief. But since it is a lot less potent, more and more consumers find less risk when using it.
But speaking of risks, this cannabinoid still has some side effects that people should be aware of. These include red eyes, dry mouth, rapid heart rate, trouble with coordination, and memory loss. But then again, studies state that these side effects may be milder.
It is important to note that delta-8 THC hasn’t been evaluated by the US FDA for safety, and its legality isn’t clear. It’s banned in some states and legal in others.
Is Delta-8 Legal?
Another reason for Delta-8’s growing popularity is that, unlike heavily regulated THC, it is legal to use in most states. That’s because it’s extracted mostly from hemp-derived CBD, which is legal to farm across the U.S.
But Delta-8 sits in a legal gray area. Hemp’s legality stems from the so-called federal farm bill (the Agriculture and Nutrition Improvement Act of 2018). This law removed hemp and its byproducts from the list of controlled substances. And the reason is that hemp-derived products have low THC levels (less than 0.3%) which means they have fewer or have no adverse effects at all. The bill doesn’t mention Delta-8 anywhere. Hemp advocates and others who sell it have used this loophole to legally market Delta-8 products, usually with no age restrictions. As a result, it’s now one of the fastest-growing products in the hemp industry.
Because there’s little oversight or lab testing on what goes into Delta-8 products, chemists and other scientists have safety concerns. Products labeled as Delta-8 may contain impurities, including high levels of THC.